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Literature review essay

Paper outline

Critical Analysis of Scientific Management

Fundamental principles of scientific management

Influence of scientific management in the 21st century
Application of scientific management in organizations
Limitations of scientific management in the 21st century


According to the theory of management, scientific management refers to strategies that are used to determine how best a certain job can be performed in an organization. Scientific management can also be technically defined as management thought primarily concerned with the physical efficiency of an individual worker (Drucker, 2007, p. 125). According to Ritzer (2010, p. 22), “scientific management is a procedure aimed at production of nonhuman technology exerting control over employees or workers in an organization”. Nowadays, most organizations in the industry make use of scientific management. Some of these organizations include hospitals, car and computer manufacturing industries, processing plants, hotels and restaurants among others. Despite many criticisms and theories that dismiss the relevance of scientific management in modern times, this paper analyses the impact of scientific management in the 21st century. Although scientific management has a great, positive impact in the 21st century, it also has some disadvantages. This may influence of scientific management in the current work environments leading to inefficiency.
Critical Analysis of Scientific Management
Taylor who is referred to as the father of scientific management developed the theory of scientific management. Before the invention of this theory, most business organizations used the rule of thumb. This is where the worker had the initiative and control. In the application of the rule of thumb, it was the efforts of the worker which gave results of the business productivity, either a success or failure. According to Taylor (1911, p.133), “the rule of thumb is inefficient such that it cannot not give the desired results as per the industry expectations”. His aim and motion to develop the theory of scientific management was to replace the rule of thumb which was unproductive and inefficient.
Fundamental principles of scientific management
There are key principles of scientific management. Some of these principles include time study, functional foremanship, and use of equipment and implements of a high standard in trading, use of standard acts of workmen, use of functions that are uniquely planned among many others. The key principle of scientific management is geared towards ensuring that employees and employers prosper to the maximum. Scientific management not only ensures large revenues to the company, but also ensuring that every branch of business has developed to its high state of excellence. Again, scientific management does not only ensure higher wages received by the employee than the usual wage of his class, but also the development of each employee for maximum efficiency. Taylor argues that there should be a machine like operation in an organization portrayed by employees in order to ensure efficiency which is directly proportional to profitability. Scientific management theory asserts that workers should be trained and scientifically selected. This enhances increased profitability in an organization. This is because a highly trained and qualified worker means quality production (Taylor, 1911, 133- 135).
Also, according to the theory of scientific management, the employer should ensure that there is maximum cooperation with the employee. This gives an assurance of perfection in the job. In addition, each work performed by every employee should be tested to ensure that it has utilized the best procedure. This ensures production of quality work hence high profitability (Blake & Moseley, 2010, pp. 27-34).
Influence of scientific management in the 21st century
Scientific management has a clear and strict approach. Scientific management remains to be of great relevance in today’s organizations. The management used in an organization should have a structural system that defines the functions of various departments, groups, and individuals. Taylor believed that the best job in an organization could be produced by using a perfect method, which could be implemented by the employees. Through this belief, Taylor wanted to create specialization in the organizations in order for each employee to specialize in one line of production leading to increased profitability. Taylor’s views and beliefs on the role of management are on how a certain task in an organization is to be performed and the methods used. For the theory to apply in today’s operations within organizations, Taylor made a formalized process of keeping records of time and motion in which job operations were done within the industry. Scientific management applied in today’s operations within an organization has been found to be very helpful (Taylor, 1911, p. 133).
One of the greatest contributions of scientific management in today’s organization is increasing the productivity (Hefley & Murphy, 2008, p. 69). Scientific management focuses on the activities performed by the workers in an organization. The importance of this was that scientific management makes the workers or employees efficient. This increases the production capacity of the company. This helps in meeting the objectives of all stakeholders. In his analysis, Taylor focused on time and motion used in the achievement of organizational goals. Using these studies, the operations in the workplace are well analyzed and the most effective and efficient ways of performing job operations are discovered hence improving the company’s productivity. In addition, use of scientific management in today’s operations increases the overall profitability and gives the organization a better opportunity to compete in the market globally. This is derived from the ability of the organization to maximize the efforts all stakeholders in the organization. Secondly, scientific management has led to development of offshore markets. This has resulted from its ability to analyze techniques used in labor within the organization. The use of these labor techniques is what makes most of the functions that were done in United States to be done oversees. On the same note, scientific management has come up with methods of production that are most effective and cheap (Hefley & Murphy, 2008, p. 69).
Again, due to the discovery of the theory of scientific management, companies and industries have been able to produce high total quality products. Scientific management has led to quality improvement that has greatly improved the profitability of the company (Giovanni, 2009, pp. 7-15). For example, industries like the automotive and the military industries have greatly improved their product quality. This has been achieved through the use of techniques introduced by Taylor in his discovery of scientific management.
The discovery and implementation of scientific management in the organization has created division of labor among the employees. Division of labor in an organization produces better results and high standards. This helps to create better productivity in the organization and contribute to enhanced product quality. This is because every employee works in the field where he is skilled at. The organizations also benefit from the scientific management in that it helps them come up with a good and organized organizational structure. This approach of creating a good organizational structure was meant to improve efficiency and give employees a motivation right from the lower level. Ritzer (2010, p. 22) noted that the advanced technology that came up with scientific management had social effects. This is because Taylor’s aim of division of labor was to deskill the employees making them specialize in one task. This had an enormous effect on the social aspect of life of the employees as it increased the discipline in the working area (Hefley & Murphy, 2008, p. 98).
Application of scientific management in organizations
Most companies in the 21st century have adopted the use scientific management in their operations. A good example is the American fast food restaurant that is known worldwide because of its advanced management skills. In his book, Thomas (2007, p. 24) quoted Ford as the author of the assembly line for car manufacturing. This American company has adopted the management style by Ford who furthered Taylor’s ideas. Ford said believed that the profitability of the business organization could be improved by having every employee working according to an assembly line. Ford implemented this in a car manufacturing industry after Taylor invented the idea of division of labor. The American company has adopted a design for the various branches of the food chain in its operations (Sigmund, 2007, pp. 115-117).
This style reduces the number of steps the employees would take to complete a certain duty. In his study on motion, Bell brought the idea of avoiding unnecessary tasks in the organization. This has been adopted by the American fast food restaurant in order to avoid wastage of time. Again, in this same organization Taylor’s ideas have also been adopted. Taylor’s main aim of scientific management was to ensure specialization and division of labor amongst the employees. The American fast foods restaurant uses this idea to create hamburger. In his article, Bell says this business organization simplified the hamburger in to a number of steps. This was done as follows; grilling the burger, put in lettuce and tomatoes add sauce then put into rolls and wrap. This has improved efficiency and as well creates specialization because every task required a different employee. Although scientific management has been of great significance in this restaurant, it has had some limitations. It limits the employees with advanced skills. This is because the skills are just wasted in the highly simplified job operations. This not only denies the opportunity for skill presentation but also their human rights as individuals. Scientific management has also been applied today in supermarkets. Supermarkets make use of Taylor’s idea of division of labor and specialization to achieve their goals. This is because supermarkets employ different people due to the different tasks like stacking shelves, scanning products sold in supermarkets and handling of queries. Another area that uses scientific management is the center for calls which initially used the rule of thumb. This was replaced by scientific management in order to make services from employees efficient and appropriate (Bell, 2011, p. 5).
As discussed by Ritzer (2010, p. 23), scientific management encourages control of the senior management to the employees. This was used in these call centers where the senior managers recorded the conversations of the employees hence this kept the employees under the control of their employers. Airport is another industry that has adopted the use of scientific management in its daily operations. A good example of this is in tagging with a barcode the luggage and bags as they are carried through sensors in the conveyor belt. This applies Ford’s principle of the assembly line. This improves efficiency in the industry. Again, in car manufacturing industries, there is also application of the scientific management. These industries make use of Ford’s principle of assembly line. Car manufacturing industries like Toyota make use of this principle in making their products. The process is broken down to various steps. This increases efficiency and improves the quality of the products hence increasing productivity. Another organization using scientific management is the hospitals, which have a reception office.
Limitations of scientific management in the 21st century
According to Stark (2011, p. 81), scientific management has some limitations. For instance, Taylor’s idea of deskilling the employees demotivates them and denies the highly advanced and skilled employees their rights. This creates dissatisfaction in the work place. Stark (2011, p. 81) asserts that, “money is a basic need for employees and that all social factors are considered to motivate them”. It also seems difficult to implement scientific management because with specialization of employees in tasks businesses cannot create competition in the market. Again, with Taylor’s idea, employees are unable to go to the managerial seats. This is because employees’ skills are ignored by application of specialization.
Borrowing from the assertions in this paper, it can be argued that scientific management has been of much influence to companies and business organizations. This is because its positive impacts to the companies outweigh the negatives impacts. Therefore, it is advisable for companies to adopt some of the usefulness of scientific management in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness in their operations. This will help improve profitability. It is also advisable for today’s organizations to be careful while applying this theory in their operations. This is because not all operations and tasks in companies and business organizations need to adopt scientific management to improve profitability.

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